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India Briefs: Recent Incidents of Persecution

ICC Note

Christians in India continue to face persecution at the hands of Hindu radicals. The police has also been taking part in the persecution of Chrisitians.

04/25/2011 India (CDN)-Police forced a pastor to stop leading worship services after Hindu extremists on April 22 disrupted his Good Friday service in Nandi Tavere village, Davengere district, and falsely accused him of forcible conversion. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that Pastor Umesh Nayak of Calvary Bethel Church was leading worship at about 11 a.m. when nearly 15 extremists stormed the church, snatched Bibles from the congregation and tore them up. A GCIC coordinator told Compass that the Hindu extremists chased away most of the congregation except for the pastor and six other church members, who remained locked inside the building. When informed of the attack, GCIC officials intervened at the Malai Bennur police station, which sent officers and released the Christians and then took them into custody for questioning. Police released Pastor Nayak at about 4:30 p.m. after he signed a statement to refrain from leading worship services in the village.

Tamil Nadu – Under cover of darkness, Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on April 17 torched Grace Good News Vision Church (GGNVC) after threatening the pastor with harm during an earlier Sunday morning service if the congregation persisted in worship. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists in Chinnanandanam village, Kanyakumari district, had been harassing a GGNVC pastor identified only as Muthuswamy, alleging forcible conversion. On March 24, officials from the Suchendran police station had forced Muthuswamy to give a written statement that he would stop church services, and on March 27, RSS extremists had destroyed the church compound’s gate and wall. The morning of April 17 the Hindu extremists stormed the church service, stopped worship and threatened Muthuswamy and the congregation with harm if they continued meeting – and hinted that they would stir up anti-Christian carnage like that of Orissa state in 2008. At around 8:30 p.m. that night, they burned down the church building; at press time, no arrests had been made.

Haryana – On April 17 in Samalkha, Sonipat, Hindu extremists from the Bajrang Dal accused the pastor of Sacred Assembly Fellowship of luring people to convert to Christianity and warned him to lead no more worship meetings under threat of harm. Pastor Satyam, who goes by a single name, reported to Compass that about 35 Hindu extremists called him out of a church meeting and took hold of his arm. Church members maintained that no one had been lured to convert to Christianity, that they would boldly stand by the pastor and that regular worship meetings would continue. The Evangelical Fellowship of India assisted the pastor in filing a complaint against the assailants. 

Karnataka – State police on April 11 detained and fined a pastor in Ombathuguligrama, Kolar district after Hindu nationalists belonging to the Bajrang Dal made false complaints about forcible conversion activities at a three-day prayer service. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that an independent pastor identified only as Timothy, along with Pastor Srinivas Devaputra and Daniel Venkatappa, organized the prayer service for April 11-13. After the conclusion of the first day’s session at 9 p.m., officials from the Bangarapete police station came to the site after intolerant Hindus falsely complained of forcible conversion and took Timothy, Venkatappa and two guest speakers to the police station for more than three hours of interrogation. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that the Christians were released without charges after police forced them to state in writing that they would conduct no further prayer meetings and imposed a fine of 4,000 rupees (US$88) on them.

Karnataka – On April 6 in Uttara Kannada, Hindu extremists burned a pastor’s field because he refused to heed their warnings to refrain from leading worship meetings. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that prior to the incident, the Hindu extremists had threatened Pastor Prakash Francis Siddi with harm if he continued to conduct worship meetings in his home. The intolerant Hindus burned the pastor coconut’s grove, fruit orchards and a field, though area Christians were able to douse the fire before it reached his house. Police advised the pastor not to file a complaint or risk greater retaliation by the extremists, reported the GCIC. 

Andhra Pradesh – A Hindu extremist leader falsely accused Christians in Anantha Varan, Guntur, of destroying Hindu idols and stopped their worship service on April 4. The All India Christian Council (AICC) reported that area Christians were about to construct a church building on land donated by the Andhra Pradesh government when Hindu extremist leader P. Narashima accused them of destroying idols of Hindu goddesses in a nearby temple and stopped their worship. The AICC reported that Narashima fabricated the story because he owned a stone-crushing factory and wanted the Christians’ land for his business. Officers took the church pastor, identified only as Ahronu, and other church members to a police station for questioning. Area Christian leaders intervened, asking the chief inspector of police to restore ownership of the land to the Christians.